Iron Men, Dunes and the Alt Estuary

The River Alt meant not a great deal to me, until a few weeks ago that is when we hiked along its estuary. It is actually Liverpool’s second river but more importantly for us is the most stunning spot for a stroll. Our walk started at the river estuary in Hightown, took us past pretty little boats and by the riverside, across some mighty sand dunes and ended up at Crosby beach. Three miles there and three miles back, all (mostly) flat and easy, except if, like Son, sand dunes mean that you just have to get climbing. Lovely views, a golden sandy beach and something interesting at every turn – we loved it.

06.07.02 - Alt Estuary


06.07.46 - Alt Estuary

Apparently the river is a great spot for bird watching – normally not for us, Son is not very quiet, not very patient and not very good at sitting still so we tend to spot not very much. We did see a lot of wildfowl here though, Altcar Rifle Range is nearby so the birds don’t seem to mind a bit of noise and loudness. We spotted a red flag flying – apparently this means they are practising – and did hear the sound of gunfire.

06.07.08 - Alt Estuary

Low tide at the start of our walk, we found hundreds of rocks strewn with seaweed. These are the remains of an ancient forest swamped thousands of years ago when sea levels increased.

06.07.50 - Alt Estuary

Further along the river, to Son’s glee it was time to head up into the sand dunes. Marker posts show the main route so you can’t go wrong, we stopped off to have a look at the natterjack toad ponds. Son was very interested but you can’t get too close, the toads are a protected species.

06.07.09 - Alt Estuary

06.07.05 - Alt Estuary

06.07.37 - Alt Estuary

As well as the stunning dunes, we spied lots of bumps on the landscape. Apparently when Liverpool was bombed in World War II huge areas of rubble had to be cleared and some was taken here. Now it is grassed over, but you can see the undulations very clearly – perfect for boisterous children to burn off excess energy.

06.07.49 - Alt Estuary

Down on the beach we found lots of rubble and interesting bricks – I assume this was all part of this rubble clearance. The males in our family found it endlessly fascinating and could have spent the whole day, climbing over the rubble in search of “special” bricks. They did find a lot – I had to use extreme persuasion skills to avoid them returning home with us (the bricks that is, not the males!).

06.07.19 - Crosby beach

06.07.23 - Crosby beach

Before we knew it, we were at Crosby Beach and found the famous iron men sculptures. “Another Place” is by Antony Gormley and is fascinating. There are 100 cast iron “men” along a 2 mile stretch of beach, all staring out to sea. These were made from casts of the artist’s own body and standing 6 feet tall are intriguing and a bit unnerving. The tide ebbs and flows and reveals and submerges the sculptures. The area around them is muddy and has a lot of soft sand but we did manage to get up close and personal with a couple. Covered with seaweed and barnacles they are quite something. Son was fascinated here too, we watched as the tide came in and some of the “men” gradually disappeared.

06.07.11 - Crosby

06.07.12 - Crosby

06.07.14 - Crosby beach

06.07.28 - Crosby beach

Back through that rubble again, back across the dunes, back to the river where we watched the most glorious sunset over the estuary. A gorgeous spot and a gorgeous walk.

06.07.30 - Alt estuary

06.07.42 - Alt Estuary

06.07.43 - Alt Estuary

06.07.45 - Alt Estuary

06.07.52 - Alt Estuary

31 thoughts on “Iron Men, Dunes and the Alt Estuary

    • Thank you!! We started the walk around 2ish and finished about 5ish I think. You could do it a lot quicker, we climbed the dunes and took a lot of detours. My son also likes to head off exploring so that takes a fair bit of time too!!

  1. I love how you three get out and move and see the surroundings! And I love that you share it with us! Those statues would kind of creep me out a little I think (especially in the darkening of the evening I think). Still so beautiful and cool though.

    • Sometimes with our son it’s easier to get out than stay in and be driven round the bend with too much excess energy!!! The statues are creepy enough during the day, no way would I go there at dusk!!

  2. The iron men disappearing in the water sound… hmm, scary? Interesting idea to sculpt? Something definitively to explore while there. Since we don’t have any tide to mention, I am always very fascinated by the huge difference it can make. Good day trip!

    • It was totally fascinating to watch the tide come in and see the “men” disappear – something about the sea and the tide just captures your attention for sure. The men disappearing, yes it is definitely a bit alternative and strange but good to see!!

  3. This loos gorgeous! I’ve never heard of that river before. I’ve seen pictures of Anthony Gormley’s men but didn’t know, or had forgotten, where they were. Very atmospheric. The only Gormley I’ve seen up close is the Angel of the North which I think is terrific.

  4. Love the photos of the boats on water. Also completely understand the fascination with the bricks. The husband would have done exactly the same thing!

    • It’s a beautiful spot for sure. The bricks were interesting, especially given the story behind how they got there. Lots had names/house numbers and other things on them so intriguing to think of the story behind them.

  5. I love the shot of “Son” standing next to the iron man. I never knew that there were places that looked like this in England (sand dunes?) I, too, would have spent hours sorting through the bricks…..I’d love to know what your special persuasion technique is. Is it a secret weapon? Cheers! Melissa

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